Results tagged ‘ Brevard County Manatees ’

On the Road: Sea Cows and Eat a Burger in Brevard County

To see all of my posts from this visit to the Brevard County Manatees (this is Part Three) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my April 2015 Florida trip, click HERE. To see all of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

If you’ve been keeping up-to-date with this series of Florida ballpark posts, then you know there has been a recurring culinary theme: Florida State League concessions don’t go too far beyond the basics.

This is more or less true at the Brevard County Manatees’ home of Space Coast Stadium, although the team does have a few wild cards on the menu.


In addition to staples such as hot dogs, burgers, Italian sausage, french fries, popcorn and nachos, the Grand Slam Grill offers blackened mahi tacos and fried as well as “Bang Bang” shrimp.

On the Friday evening that I was in attendance, they also offered this:

IMG_0403My designated eater — you know, the individual who consumes the ballpark foods that my gluten-free diet prohibits — was one Enrique Cortes.


I wish I had a picture of Enrique that showed him in a non-eating pose. But, as I mentioned in my previous post, I was off of my game during my evening in Brevard County. The opportunity, it passed me by.

Anyhow, Enrique was attending the game with his wife, Lynette, and their son Enrique Jr. Enrique Sr. has been an art teacher at Palm Bay Elementary School since 2002. After graduating college with an art degree, he said that his master plan was to “get into the museum side of things.”

“I thought I’d just teach for a little bit,” he said. “But I never left. I enjoy it. You get to draw with kids all day. You can’t beat it.”

Enrique also serves as a coach for his son’s “machine-pitch” team, and he regularly attends Manatees games at Space Coast Stadium as well as Major League games in both Tampa and Miami.

As for why he wanted to be a designated eater, Enrique said that “I thought that it would be different, a new experience. I’m always looking for new experiences in the baseball world.”

Okay, great. But my issue was finding the ideal point in the evening for Enrique to get this experience. He was flexible, and my plan was to coordinate with the Manatees’ staff so that Enrique could be given a nice spread of concession stand highlights. This was not to come to fruition, as the front office was running around like maniacs (read the previous post to find out why) and the concession stand was slammed all night long.

By the time the seventh inning stretch rolled around, it was time to take matters into our own hands. Or, more accurately, Enrique took matters into his own hands. He corralled a coterie of Palm Bay East Little League players — it was Little League Night at the stadium — so that they could star in this rollicking Vine video.

Enrique and I then visited the Grand Slam Grill, ordering the “No Wake Zone Burger” from a no-nonsense, exhausted-looking woman with a name tag that said “Margot.” The game was nearly over at this point; we were fortunate that the concession stand was still open, and here we were ordering some convoluted new special item. Margot shot us an “Are you kidding me?” look before asking, “Do you know how to dial 911?”

The No Wake Zone Burger — two quarter pound burgers topped with crispy fried onions, bacon, tomato and blue cheese — is indeed a heart attack waiting to happen.

IMG_0433A closer look:

IMG_0436Have at it, Enrique. Have at it:

“That’s very good, a real juicy burger,” said Enrique. “The blue cheese gives it tangy-ness, a sweet bitter combo, just the right mix. It almost feels like I’m eating an egg in here.”

Nearly a month has passed, and I’m not quite sure what he meant by that last part.

Anyhow, here’s Enrique Sr. enjoying the burger as Enrique Jr. looks on.

IMG_0438“This is definitely something I would enjoy eating again,” he concluded. “I’d pay the extra bucks for it. There’s the saltiness of the burger, the crispiness of the onions. Good burger.”

Oh, and just so that I don’t get excoriated by all of the merciless #cupdate fiends out there, here are some pictures of the Manatees’ current collectible cup.


IMG_0440And that does it. Literally, as at this point in the evening the game was over.

I’ll let Enrique have the last word. Given that the Manatees’ long-term future in Brevard County is uncertain, he had this to say:

“I hope the Manatees stay in Brevard County. I hope they don’t have to move. I fear the worst. I’ve enjoyed the past 21 years; I was here when they first started. I’d be sad to see them go. But it’s baseball, and it’s a business. I just want Enrique Jr. to have a team to root for.”

On the Road: It’s All a Blur in Brevard County

To see all of my posts from this visit to the Brevard County Manatees (this is Part Two) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my April 2015 Florida trip, click HERE. To see all of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

If you work in baseball, no matter what it is that you do, you’re going to have an off night. It’s a long season, and sometimes, for whatever reason, the results of your performance won’t meet previously established standards. Why am I saying this? Because, on this season-opening road trip, my visit to the Brevard County Manatees’ home of Space Coast Stadium was most definitely an off night. The combination of a hectic, overheated ballpark atmosphere (Little League Night) and short game time (two hours and 18 minutes) made it so I never found my footing. I was never in the groove. I wasn’t in control of the evening; the evening was in control of me.

C’est la vie. I did the best I could.

So here we go! Game time:


Such was the scene in the top of the first inning, as Dunedin’s Roemon Fields led off the game with a walk and then proceeded to steal second and third. Such developments would have been news to these kids, because “Hey, kids, you’re looking the wrong way!”


Baseball might not hold the attention of today’s youth, but you know what does? The chance to win a free t-shirt.

But who am I to get all self-righteous about watching — or not watching — a baseball game? I never watch the games I attend, as I’m too busy talking to people, watching people eat and participating in grounds crew dancing routines.

Tonight’s routine was to be to the tune of “It’s Not Unusual” by noted Pepsi Kona endorser Tom Jones. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do, but Manatees general manager Kyle Smith was willing to explain.

That was all the instruction needed. We killed it out there.

After the dancing, I stayed in the dugout well for a little while. I probably could have found a more worthwhile use for my time, but, what, manatee worry?


Manny is such a lovable fellow, which makes it hard to take the team’s slogan seriously.

IMG_0442Anyhow, it was a pretty good view down there, so long as Manny wasn’t blocking it.

IMG_0425A veritable gaggle of kids was hanging out down here as well, so that they could participate in a between-inning shoe race.


You know the deal:

1. The kids’ shoes are dumped onto the field

2. The kids run toward the pile of shoes

3. The kids must find the pair of shoes belonging to them, and put them on

4. The kids then run back from the field to the finish line near the dugout.

After approximately 47 consecutive foul balls were hit by the last batter of the inning, the kids had their time to (shoe) shine.

While you never would have known it if you had attended the game, the Manatees had announced a promotion earlier in the day that almost immediately garnered national attention. In the wake of Britt McHenry being suspended by ESPN for making “bullying” comments toward a tow truck employee, the Manatees extended an invitation to McHenry to spend the week of her suspension as the team’s field-side reporter. Additionally, they asked McHenry to speak out against the evils of bullying at an upcoming Education Day game.

mchenry_lrn1wk9q_6dcm6e5cI wrote an story all about this promotion. Now it’s time for — you guessed it — a relevant excerpt.

The Manatees’ invitation quickly drew interest from the media, first locally (newspaper Florida Today) and then nationally. As it just so happened, I was in attendance during April 17’s Manatees game at Space Coast Stadium and able to witness the surreal workplace disconnect that can result when a click-baiting Minor League promotion achieves its intended result. As general manager Kyle Smith and director of community relations Jennifer Garcia engaged in their myriad gameday tasks — everything from handling fan questions and complaints to coordinating between-innings promos to, in Smith’s case, doing the “Carlton Dance” during the dragging of the infield — they would periodically duck into (comparatively) quiet ballpark areas to field calls from the media. By the end of the day, the Manatees’ invite had garnered interest from national outlets — perhaps most notably online celebrity gossip powerhouse TMZ — who would ordinarily have no interest in the promotional efforts of a Florida State League baseball franchise.

A couple of days later, after I had returned home to New York City, I was reading the New York Daily News and happened upon this:

IMG_1157 (2)

Weird, right? Also weird is the fact that, all of a sudden, it was nighttime at Space Coast Stadium. I was losing track of time.

IMG_0431As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, I was all out of whack this evening. The game was just flying by and I felt powerless to stop it. Maybe because I was powerless to stop it. Before I knew it, the game was over and tennis balls were raining down on the field. Florida weather is weird.


The screaming children then made a mass exodus from the ballpark. Ah, silence. Sweet, sweet, silence.

IMG_0444After the game, I interviewed Kyle about the McHenry promotion. His office, like this conference room, had an exquisite view of the field. Not a bad place in which to work!

IMG_0445While Smith and I were talking, the power at the stadium went out. I don’t know how or why, all I know is that it would have been terrifying and hilarious if this had occurred during the game. All those screaming kids would have been screaming even louder!

This was what Space Coast Stadium looked like as I made my way to the parking lot in darkness.

IMG_1023I could still see the space shuttle, however. At Space Coast Stadium, you can always see the space shuttle.

IMG_1024Stay tuned for part three of this Manatees series, as designated eater Enrique Cortes tackles the “No Wake Zone Burger.”

On the Road: Checking Out the Space in Brevard County

To see all of my posts from this visit to the Brevard County Manatees (this is Part One) click HERE. To see all of the posts from my April 2015 Florida trip, click HERE. To see all of my “On the Road” posts (going back to 2010), click HERE.

The Brevard County Manatees play in Space Coast Stadium. While this name references the prevalence of the aeronautical industry within the region — most notably the Kennedy Space Center — it is also worth noting that this is a ballpark surrounded by a lot of space. This was my view upon pulling into the parking lot:


I also saw some some birds.


And a scenic waterfront statue.


And fans gathering around and on a not-quite-to-scale space shuttle.


And, oh yeah, there it is: Space Coast Stadium.


Like most Florida State League facilities, Space Coast Stadium is also also used for Major League Spring Training. The Manatees are an anomaly, however, in that they are not the affiliate of the club that plays Spring Training games there. The Manatees are an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, while the Washington Nationals are the Spring Training tenant.

This arrangement will not last for much longer, however, as if all goes according to plan the Nationals will move to a new West Palm Beach complex shared with the Houston Astros. This would be much more amenable as regards travel (Tradition Field in St. Lucie and Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter are in close proximity to the West Palm Beach site) and, presumably, amenities.

When the Nationals leave, the Manatees will join the Daytona Cubs as the only FSL team not playing in a Major League Spring Training complex. There has long been chatter about building a new, standalone ballpark for the team, but it is also possible that they will simply soldier on at Space Coast.

There are worse places in which to soldier.


A common problem in the FSL is that the teams play in very large facilities. Even decent crowds, by Class-A Advanced standards, seem sparse. To create a more intimate atmosphere and foster demand, however artificial, the Manatees have covered up entire sections of seating down the first and third base lines.

IMG_0413 Though the weather was looking a bit ominous, a big crowd showed up on this Friday evening. It was Little League Night, meaning that the joint was chock-a-block with screaming, uniformed children.

The right-field foul pole is dedicated to the Columbia space shuttle (left field honored the Challenger).

IMG_0398The view from left field.

IMG_0406A low-key tiki bar can be found out in this direction, one of the few ballpark locations to offer a respite from screaming, uniformed children.

IMG_0409The visitor’s bullpen is in left field as well. Look at this guy, doing his best to take up the entire bench all by himself. His teammates are like, “Not so fast, bro.”

IMG_0408While I was visiting in this area, I spent some time talking with one Enrique Cortes. He was to be my designated eater for the evening — you’ll meet him in a separate post — but in addition to being a skilled eater he also proved to be a fount of regionally specific information. To wit:

— The seats at Space Coast Stadium used to be teal, as the facility hosted Marlins Spring Training from 1994 through 2002.

— Nearby Cocoa Beach, Florida, was once a popular movie filming destination.

— The economy has been slow in recent times as a result of the decline of the space industry, but it’s picking back up thanks in part to the emergence of private space exploration firms such as SpaceX.

— Nearby Melbourne, Florida, is the hometown of Jim Morrison (the Doors singer, not the Major League infielder — and former Charlotte Stone Crabs manager — whose playing career spanned from 1977-88).

— Prince Fielder grew up in the area as well. He played for Melbourne’s Florida Air Academy during his first three years of high school.

So there you have it. Thanks for the factoids, Enrique. Here’s a sneak peak of him in action later in the evening.


For reasons I can no longer recall, the ballgame’s ceremonial first pitch was thrown out by this inflatable fella.

IMG_0415I documented this occurrence with not one but, yes, two Vine videos.

During the singing of our National Anthem, I thought it’d be funny to pinpoint the Manatees player who stood at attention the longest. Take a bow, Preston Gainey!


And with that, the game began. That’s just the sort of thing that seems to happen after the singing of our National Anthem. Part two of this blog series will, shockingly, pick up right where this one left off. Stay tuned.

About Last Night: Brevard County Manatees, April 17, 2015

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll be writing a short, on-the-spot blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, assuming that I return home, I will provide the scintillating blog coverage that you have come to perhaps know and maybe even love. So let’s get to it, lest it get to us!

April 17, 2015 — Space Coast Stadium, home of the Brevard County Manatees (Class A Advanced affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers). The stadium also hosts Washington Nationals Spring Training.

Opponent: Dunedin Blue Jays, 6:30 p.m. start time.

Space Coast Stadium, from the outside:


Space Coast Stadium, from within: 


Culinary Delight: No Wake Zone Burger (two burger patties with crispy fried onions, bacon, blue cheese)


Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):

I forgot to do one of these tonight. I apologize to my legions of fans. To make it up to you, here’s a Vine featuring one of the best first pitches that I have ever seen.

At Random: Men at work, kids at play. It’s all the same, really.


Last Song Played Over the PA: Once again, the songs kept on playing long after the last fans had left. Here’s the last one I paid attention to:

Next Up: Jacksonville Suns — TONIGHT! — April 18.

4/19: Mama, I’m Coming Home

About Last Night: Jackie Robinson Game in Vero Beach, April 15, 2015

This season, when I’m on the road, I’ll be writing a short, on-the-spot blog post about each Minor League ballpark that I visit. Then, upon my possibly  triumphant return home, I will provide the exhilarating blog coverage that you have come to know and, perhaps, even love. So let’s get to it!

April 15, 2015 — Holman Stadium, located within the historic Dodgertown complex (Spring Training home of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers from 1948 through 2008).

Event: Jackie Robinson Game, between the Brevard County Manatees and St. Lucie Mets. Robinson trained at Dodgertown throughout the bulk of his career, and even hit the first home run at Holman Stadium.

Holman Stadium, from the outside: 


Holman Stadium, from within: Some 6,000 people were in attendance, a huge crowd by Florida State League standards, no matter what the context.


Culinary Delight: I skipped my usual food coverage, given that this was a one-time event. But here’s a shot of one of the main food and beverage areas. You can imagine how cramped this became once some 6,000 people were in the ballpark.


Waiting for the Punch-Vine (my nightly attempt at telling an “original” ballpark joke in six seconds):

At Random: Old signage is the best kind of signage.


In Conclusion: Thanks, Jackie.


Next Up: St. Lucie Mets. Tonight! April 16!

4/17: Brevard County Manatees

4/18: Jacksonville Suns

The Onus Is On You To Fear the Sea Cow and Let It Snow

evol.jpgOver the past several weeks, I have methodically taken note of all the teams who are planning some sort of Valentine’s Day promotion. My current tally now stands at 33, and I am sure there are some that I am missing.

But, you know what? I’ve written about this kind of thing before, in multiple feature stories (HERE and HERE) and blog posts (HERE and HERE). So at this juncture, I’m just going to make a simple request:

Send me funny photos and videos from your Valentine endeavors, and I will compile a (hopefully) hilarious blog post with the best of what I receive. In the meantime, here’s a video featuring a diaper-wearing mascot playing front office Cupid.

It’s otherwise a pretty slow day here in Minor League Baseball-land, but we’ll get by. We always do.

I do, however, want to highlight an event going on tonight: Minor League Baseball on Ice!

tbl.pngThe NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning will be hosting “Minor League Baseball Night” at the St. Pete Times Forum on Friday. Not much to it, really — a bevy of Florida State League teams will have info booths set up on the concourse, attempting to educate fans on the wonders of Minor League Baseball.

And, according to the Brevard County Manatees website, anyone who visits the team’s booth and utters the words “Fear the Sea Cow!” will receive a special gift.

In my mind, simply having a legitimate reason to say “Fear the Sea Cow” to a total stranger is a gift in and of itself.

Meanwhile, much of the country is still dealing with the after-effects of last week’s blizzard. Instead of stressing out about the situation, the Cedar Rapids have taken a “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” approach.

And since it’s Friday, I’ll close with a video even more gratuitous. Check out who can now add “Children’s Book Author” to his resume:

Clearing the Cache

Considering that the Ben’s Biz Blog sphere of coverage encompasses 160 teams and 14 leagues, there is always something to write about. Too much, in fact. Throughout each and every work day, I stumble upon untold numbers of amazing Minor League news items. Such as these:

24: The masochistic and quite possibly insane Brooklyn Cyclones front office recently played baseball for 24 hours in a row. Contrary to popular (read: my) belief, this was not done in honor of agent Jack Bauer. Instead, it was all for charity, and over $15,000 dollars was raised over the course of the staggering 12 straight games that were played. Cyclones Director of Communications Dave Campanaro has a very funny account of the ordeal here.

A Peanut Farmer in Altoona: None other than former president Jimmy Carter attended Tuesday’s Altoona Curve game. Here he is at Blair County Ballpark, along with his wife Rosalynn:


Charleston Going to the Dogs: A chance visit to the Charleston RiverDogs’ website resulted in me stumbling upon this review of Joseph P. Riley’s stunning concession stand creations. There are many incredible hot dogs contained therein, including the Asian Invasion (a hot dog with soy sauce, wasabi, and crunchy chow mein noodles):

(photo credit: Wade Spees, The Post and Courier)

Awesome Video Alert: You may remember Erie’s unnamed racing wienies from this post. Click here to see them shilling for Smith’s Sausage Shack, to the “tune” of a B-52s parody. For an unrelated but equally awesome video, click here.

Finally: I can’t think of a better way to end my blogging week than with this delicacy from the Brevard County Manatees concession stand. It’s Taco in A Helmet!

Taco In A Helmet.jpg
Thanks to Manatees General Manager Kyle Smith for sending this along. Have a great weekend, everybody.

A Great Moment in American History, Revisited

deaner.jpgAre you tired of the seemingly endless battle between Hilary and Obama, and how the fight for the Democrat presidential nomination has been reduced to a parade of meaningless snippets and soundbites? Do you long for the days when politics were covered with substance and style?

Well, the Brevard County Manatees have just the thing that you are looking for. On Thursday, they will take fans on a trip back in time — all the way to that golden era of 2004. It’s “I Have A Scream Night” at Space Coast Stadium, during which the club will pay tribute to Howard Dean’s legendary presidential campaign. The details regarding this tribute are quite sparse, but the press release does go out of its way to reference Dean’s epochal “scream” speech:

“Not only are the Manatees going to Daytona, they’re going to Palm Beach
and Jupiter andbcmanatees.PNG Vero Beach and St. Lucie. They’re going to Clearwater
and Tampa and Dunedin. Then they’re going to Fort Myers and Sarasota
and Lakeland, and they’re coming back to Space Coast Stadium to take
back the FSL championship… BYAH!”

If this promo caused you to do nothing more than utter a disinterested “byah”, then perhaps what the club has in store the next evening is more up your alley. It’s “Salute to Local Beers Night”, and “of-age” fans will have the opportunity to sample beer, Brevard County style, over the course of the evening. Just don’t drink too much, as this will cause you to go “BYAH!”

Okay, I’ve gotta go now. Until tomorrow, folks…


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